Magnetic Resonance Imaging as a Major Milestone in Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis and Treatment

Creative Commons License


NOROPSIKIYATRI ARSIVI-ARCHIVES OF NEUROPSYCHIATRY, vol.52, 2015 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has played a unique role in the diagnosis and management of patients with MS. In recent years, there have been considerable changes in the diagnostic criteria for MS as MRI-based studies have demonstrated their power in the earlier and more accurate diagnosis of the disease. Moreover, MRI metrics have become key supportive outcome measures for evaluating the efficacy of experimental treatments in randomized controlled trials. MRI can also be used as a prognostic tool in patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). Conventional MR techniques including proton density, T1/T2-weighted images, and FLAIR sequences are now accepted in standard protocols for diagnostic and treatment outcome measures in clinical trials for MS. Radiological features may show a similarity between radiologically isolated syndrome and MS. Approximately two-thirds of individuals with RIS exhibit radiological progression and one-third develop neurological symptoms during mean follow-up times of up to five years. However, a current challenge in the global application of established criteria for RIS involves the accurate classification of subjects with incidentally identified anomalies that are highly characteristic of MS, in comparison to those categorized in medical parlance as possessing "unidentified bright objects" or nonspecific T2-hyperintensities, which are commonly identified in patients with migraine headache who fulfill the spatial dissemination requirements for MS. The need for systematically acquired data for improvements in the classification of radiologically isolated syndrome (RIS) and the generation of risk algorithms are critically important, providing a basis for scientifically supported management and most importantly, minimizing the number of improperly classified subjects exposed to unnecessary medical testing, MS treatments, and psychological harm. In addition, brain atrophy is a common finding that can now be quantitatively assessed by MR volumetric measures. Further, integrated strategies that combine MRI and clinical markers in scoring systems have provided a potentially useful approach for the management of patients with MS.